On Wednesday 28 January, the first ever ACMES Research Convention was held. During a day filled with numerous panels, ACMES Associates from a great variety of fields presented (part of) their current research to their colleagues and interested members of the public.
After director Robbert Woltering's opening speech - in which he encouraged AMCES Associates to engage in interdisciplinary collaborations - the first four panels began. These panels focused on current developments in Iran; the notion of predestination in various Arabic texts; citizenship and rights; and Middle Eastern cities. The great thematic variety reflects the many disciplines working on the Middle East within the UvA - the twelve participants in these panels come from three different faculties and eight different departments.
The first round of panels was followed by Michiel Leezenberg's keynote lecture entitled 'Iraq, ISIS and the Kurds: Redrawing National, Religious and Sexual Boundaries'. His presentation was followed by a short but lively discussion with the audience, in which the current situation and developments in Syria and Iraq were debated elaborately.
The early afternoon session, between 14.00-16.00 hrs, consisted of three panels.The first, entitled 'Marriage controversies: public debates and lived experience', consisted of the researchers involved with and ERC program (led by prof. Annelies Moors) investigating when and how less conventional Muslim marriages have become subject to public debate.
Another panel focused on the practice of collecting art from the Islamic world in Europe. Researchers and curators from the Netherlands and Belgium talked about these collections and their histories.
At the same time, the Doelenzaal was host to the third panel of this session: 'Critical perspectives on Israel/Palestine'. Researchers here discussed subjects varying from militarism and securitisation to critical engagement and sexual politics.
In the late afternoon, another four panel session was scheduled. The first of these was concerned with the Arabic language, or more specifically, on the use of historical sources in dialectology (linguistics). The overarching theme of the second panel was the dynamics of heritage and memory, with a specific focus on Turkey and Israel/Palestine.
Simultaneously, another group of researchers and public were discussing representation, images, and stereotyping of others. Topics that were discussed here included the portrayal of Yezidis by Arab Iraqis, Muslim antisemitism and the way Muslim organisations attempt to cope with anti-Muslim sentiments.
Finally, of course, the recent uprisings in the Arab world were addressed. ACMES associates here discussed the current developments in Kuwait and Tunisia in the wake of the so-called Arab Spring.
This fruitful day was then concluded with a closing reception. ACMES would like to thank all those who presented their work for their interesting papers and the enthusiastic audiences for their active and valuable engagement in the various discussions.